How To Inspire Yourself with a Great Big Bucket List



“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – H. Jackson Brown Jr.

A bucket list is simply a list of all your goals and dreams and bold ambitions you hope to achieve before you die, or “kick the bucket”.

The main purpose is to remind you of what makes you come alive and what lights your inner desires.

Just like flipping through photos or a vision board can inspire your mind and rekindle your fire, a big and bold bucket list can be exactly what you need to find your second wind, reignite your eye of the tiger, or be the proverbial kick in your booty that bootstraps your next business venture or epic adventure.

In this article, I’m going to show you how to build a better, bigger bucketlist to inspire yourself and explore the art of the possible.

Enjoy the Journey of Creating Your List

Sometimes the power of a bucket list, is really the learning journey you go on just to create one.

It’s actually very difficult to know all the possibilities and interesting things you can do in your lifetime.  Especially without a mentor, or the right ring of friends, or stumbling on the right books or sites.

But enjoy the process of discovery.

The world is vast.  Even when it’s virtual (even Google Earth is upping it’s game and creating new ways to explore the world around us).

You know your list is trending in the right direction, when you feel those little tugs inside that make you smile, feel a little lighter, or dream a little bigger.  Sometimes, you have to shove fear aside, or your negative thinking, so you can let yourself dream again.

Hope is the springboard of dreams that come true.

How To Build a Better Bucket List

With an open mind, teeming with curiosity, begin your journey of discovery.

One way to start is to ask friends, family, whoever you know, what is their favorite thing they did so far in this life?

Or you might ask them, what book changed their life, for real?

Or what is their favorite movie of all time, and keep going until they say something you haven’t seen before?

Ask them their favorite place they traveled.

Ask them what was their most surprising adventure, that turned out to be their most epic adventure.

Ask them what what is their favorite item on their bucket list or something they hope to do in this lifetime, they haven’t done yet.

This is a great way to find play places, secret hidey holes and adventures right in your own backyard.

I never knew about flying yoga, until a studio came to town.  I didn’t know that a ghost tour could be so much fun, until I heard the tales of the legends and lore in Louisiana.   I didn’t know what a night time celebration of the sunset could be like until I experienced a festival in Key West.

Sometimes, the sweetest things in life, are just little extraordinary, ordinary moments.  One friend told me how she shared a virtual beer, remotely, with her sister as they reflected on their favorite childhood stories.

Dream First, Design Later

Fill your bucket list with hallmark moments, precious moments, bold ambitions, and wild dreams that fill your heart with hope, and your mind with light.

At this stage, enjoy the journey and the process of creating your epic bucket list.

Don’t worry about how you will make it happen.

First you need to figure out what’s worth doing and why you want to do it.  You might find in many cases that your what is simply because it’s novel and new.

And that’s OK, too.

Your challenge is to park a lifetime of baggage and filters that rain on your parade before you even started your list.

Imagination isn’t meant to be heavy.  It’s meant to help.

Off with the chains, up with the balloons that lift you.

Make It Personal, It’s YOUR Bucket List

One person’s dream goal, is another person’s nightmare.  Not everybody wants to climb to the top of a legendary mountain.

Not everybody wants to go on a vision quest to find their purpose.  Not everybody wants to ride their motorcycle around the world.

To each their own.

But you can absolutely find inspiration in browsing other people’s bucket lists.

You can be daring if you want.

You can be as timid as you need to be.

Your real goal in this is a list that reflects the real you—what you really want in this life.

If you are afraid of who you really are, at least first to get to know yourself, before you judge.

(BTW – judging is a waste of time, it’s way better to ask, “How can I use this insight?” or “What do I like about that?”)

Bucketlist Adventures: An Idea I had for Richard Branson

Many moons ago, after listening to one of Richard Branson’s books, I think it was The Virgin Way, I had an idea for a future business venture that I thought Richard Branson could make real.

The idea was this:

Bucketlist Adventures – help people make their greatest real-world adventures come true.

In my mind, I imagined Richard Branson was the one that could arrange end-to-end adventures for people, through partnerships and additional ventures.

To me, Richard Branson is really about living life to the fullest, and so I believe that his greatest gift in this life is to help others live their dreams and boldest ambitions.  And I thought he was uniquely positioned because of the cards he held in his deck.

The idea was to personalize these adventures.  Make it incredibly human and connected.  Offer a service to turn the Bucketlist Adventure into a media-rich memory.  Maybe a journalist writes their adventure and shares their story with the world.

I wanted to add the social support where maybe friends, family, or even perfect strangers, could fund or donate to other people’s Bucketlist Adventures, to help make dreams come true.

I thought people could virtually experience their wildest adventures, then decide to go for the real deal.   I imagined partnerships at the time between Branson and Disney, National Geographic and more.

By land, by sea, by rail, by air – I wanted a venture to empower anybody to live and learn their greatest adventures.  (I guess I should have included space, but it wasn’t much of an option at the time.  OK, now SpaceX is on the table, too).

Meet Dr. Chris Stout and The List of a Lifetime

If you don’t’ know Dr. Chris Stout, he is famous for his adventures around the world, his humanitarian efforts, his books, and his life’s achievement.

The backbone of his amazing life is actually his amazing big list of goals:
The List of a Lifetime

Rather than a bucket list, Dr. Stout frames his list like this:

“Forget about Resolutions and Bucket Lists.  This is the way to do more and be more, and be able to look back with a deep level of satisfaction and accomplishment.”

Dr. Stout was originally inspired by John Goddard’s long list of adventures and lifetime achievements featured in 1972 issue of LIFE Magazine.

Dr. Stout decided to create his own list of big, bold goals to inspire and guide his journey for life.

Here is what  Dr. Stout says about Goddard’s list and then his own living list of life’s adventures:

“The list wasn’t like some fleeting to-do list that just fizzled and got lost in a drawer, instead it became a blue-print for his life.  Well, being an impressionable youth, I made one for myself.  It turn out to be be a motivator to fight-off inertia, lethargy, and couch potatoism.

As for my List, it has evolved as many things like jet skis and parasailing didn’t exist when I authored my first edition.  Seems like I tend to often enjoy doing things where the goal isn’t to win, per se, but to just be happy to be able to finish (and live to tell about it).”

A Sample of Ideas from Dr. Stout’s The List of a Lifetime

With a single glance, you can see some of Dr. Stout’s amazing achievements:

  • 1 of 100 global Leaders of Tomorrow World Economic Forum
  • Climbed 3 of the world’s 7 summits
  • Founded 1 Tanzanian Kindergarten
  • Published 35+ books translated into 8 languages (including 2 best sellers)
  • Visited the 7 wonders of the world
  • Visited 50 states
  • Visited 100+ countries and counting…

Here is a sample of some of the ideas from Dr. Chris Stout’s The List of a Lifetime:

  • Alpine Ski
  • Appear on a billboard
  • Be a consultant to the Whitehouse
  • Be a published poet
  • Be a restaurant reviewer / “Secret Shopper”
  • Be the world’s Fastest Psychologist
  • Body surf
  • Charm a python
  • Climb inside the Cheops Pyramid in Cairo
  • Complete a Ultra-Marathon
  • Complete a Warrior Dash
  • Co-produce a documentary file
  • Curate an exhibit
  • Dive “The Blue Hole” in Belize
  • Do clapping push-up
  • Do a Strongman Feat
  • Do editorial cartooning
  • Eat fire
  • Fly a passenger at MK2 in a Concord
  • Go 142 MPH on the Autobahn
  • Go to Burning Man
  • Go zip-lining in an Atiguan rain forest
  • Have a hummingbird feed off my hand
  • Lost 64 pounds
  • Make the perfect martini
  • Master the Crane post (somebody watched Karate Kid)
  • Participate in a traditional sake cask opening
  • Ride a Wave-runner
  • Roller blade
  • Run with the bulls
  • Set a Guiness World Record (most people eating breakfast in bed 🙂
  • Set a land speed record on a bike
  • Snorkel
  • Stand on the “Middle of the World”
  • Study ballet
  • Swim with the dolphins
  • View a Super Blood Wolf Moon
  • Visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  • Visit the World’s Smallest park (Mill Ends, Portland)
  • Wind Sail

Like I said, it’s just a sampling.  His real list is way bigger, and filled with his many adventures, achievements, and travels around the world.

John Goddard’s Ultimate Bucket List

The world-adventurer John Goddard was featured in a 1972 issue of LIFE Magazine for his amazing list of adventures and achievements.

Here is a an example of John Goddard’s Ultimate Bucket List:

  • Accomplish
  • Climb
  • Explore
  • Explore Underwater
  • Photograph
  • Study Primitive Cultures In
  • Swim In
  • Visit


  • Become an Eagle Scout 
  • Dive in a submarine 
  • Land on and take of from an aircraft carrier 
  • Fly in a blimp, balloon and glider 
  • Ride an elephant, camel, ostrich and bronco 
  • Skin dive to 40 feet and hold breath two and a half minutes underwater. 
  • Catch a ten-pound lobster
    and a ten-inch abalone
  • Play flute and violin 
  • Type 50 words a minute 
  • Make a parachute jump 
  • Learn water and snow skiing 
  • Go on a church mission 
  • Follow the John Muir trail 
  • Study native medicines and bring back useful ones 
  • Bag camera trophies of elephant, lion, rhino, cheetah, buffalo and whale 
  • Learn to fence 
  • Learn jujitsu 
  • Teach a college course 
  • Watch a cremation ceremony in Bali 
  • Explore depths of the sea 
  • Appear in a Tarzan movie (he now considers this an irrelevant boyhood dream) 
  • Own a horse, chimpanzee, cheetah, ocelot, and coyote (yet to own a chimp or cheetah) 
  • Become a ham radio operator 
  • Build own telescope 
  • Write a book (On Nile trip) 
  • Publish an article in National
    Geographic Magazine 
  • High jump five feet 
  • Broad jump 15 feet 
  • Run mile in five minutes 
  • Weigh 175 pounds stripped (still does) 
  • Perform 200 sit-ups and 20 pull-ups 
  • Learn French, Spanish and Arabic 
  • Study dragon lizards on Komodo Island (Boat broke down within 20 miles of island) 
  • Visit birthplace of Grandfather Sorenson in Denmark 
  • Visit birthplace of Grandfather Goddard in England 
  • Ship aboard a freighter as a seaman 
  • Read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica (has read extensive parts in each volume) 
  • Read the Bible from cover to cover 
  • Read the works of Shakespeare, Plato, Aristotle, Dickens, Thoreau, Rousseau, Conrad, Hemingway, Twain, Burroughs, Talmage, Tolstoi, Longfellow, Keats, Poe, Bacon, Whittier, and Emerson (not every work of each) 
  • Become familiar with the compositions of Bach, Beethoven, Debussy, Ibert, Mendelssohn, Lalo, Liszt, Rimski-Korsakov, Respighi, Rachmaninoff, Paganini, Stravinsky, Toch, Tschaikosvsky, Verdi 
  • Become proficient in the use of a plane, motorcycle, tractor, surfboard, rifle, pistol, canoe, microscope, football, basketball, bow and arrow, lariat and boomerang 
  • Compose music 
  • Play Clair de Lune on the piano 
  • Watch fire-walking ceremony (In Bali and Surinam) 
  • Milk a poisonous snake (bitten by diamondback during photo session) 
  • Light a match with .22 rifle 
  • Visit a movie studio 
  • Climb Cheops’ pyramid 
  • Become a member of the Explorer’s Club and the Adventure’s Club 
  • Learn to play polo 
  • Travel through the Grand Canyon on foot and by boat
  • Circumnavigate the globe (four times) 
  • Visit the moon (“Someday, if God wills”) 
  • Marry and have children
    (has five children) 
  • Live to see the 21st century 


  • Mt. Everest 
  • Mt. Aconcagua, Argentina 
  • Mt. McKinley 
  • Mt. Hauscaran, Peru
  • Mt. Kilimanjaro 
  • Mt. Ararat, Turkey 
  • Mt. Kenya 
  • Mt. Cook, New Zealand 
  • Mt. Popocatepetl, Mexico 
  • The Matterhorn 
  • Mt. Rainier 
  • Mt. Fuji 
  • Mt. Vesuvius 
  • Mt. Bromo, Java 
  • Grand Tetons 
  • Mt. Baldy, California 
  • Careers in medicine and exploration 
  • Visit every country in the world (30 to go) 
  • Study Navaho and Hopi Indians 
  • Learn to fly a plane 
  • Ride horse in Rose Parade 

Explore Underwater

  • Coral reefs of Florida 
  • Great Barrier Reef, Australia
    (photographed a 300lb clam) 
  • Red Sea 
  • Fiji Islands 
  • The Bahamas 
  • Okefenokee Swamp and Everglades 


  • Iguacu Falls, Brazil 
  • Victoria Falls, Rhodesia (Chased by a warthog in the process) 
  • Sutherland Falls, New Zealand
  • Yosemite Falls 
  • Niagara Falls 
  • Retrace travels of Marco Polo and Alexander the Great 

Study Primitive Cultures In

  • The Congo 
  • New Guinea 
  • Brazil 
  • Borneo 
  • The Sudan (nearly buried alive in a sandstorm) 
  • Australia 
  • Kenya 
  • The Philippines 
  • Tanganyika (now Tanzania) 
  • Ethiopia 
  • Nigeria 
  • Alaska 

Swim In

  • Lake Victoria 
  • Lake Superior 
  • Lake Tanganyika 
  • Lake Titicaca, S. America 
  • Lake Nicaragua 


  • North and South Poles
  • Great Wall of China 
  • Panama and Suez Canals 
  • Easter Island 
  • The Galapagos Islands 
  • Vatican City (saw the Pope) 
  • The Taj Mahal 
  • The Eiffel Tower 
  • The Blue Grotto 
  • The Tower of London 
  • The Leaning Tower of Pisa 
  • The Sacred Well of Chichen-Itza, Mexico 
  • Climb Ayers Rock in Australia 
  • Follow River Jordan from Sea of Galilee to Dead Sea 

The Art of Looking Back and Looking Ahead

It’s worth calling out that sometimes you need to look forward.

And, sometimes you need to take a look back.

Look back on your life and appreciate the scenes and moments and vignettes in your life that remind you of the full tapestry of your experience and the mosaic of your memories that make up your life.

A trip down memory lane is a great way to appreciate where you’ve been, just as much as a big, bold dream based on nothing more than a hunch (or a scene form your favorite movie or the inspiring words from a favorite book), is a great way to inspire yourself to new heights and new possibilities– Oh, the Places You’ll Go, Dr. Seuss style.

Just because it hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean it never will.

Sometimes it’s the raw ideas of a half-baked dream that become the breeding ground and serendipity for your future in ways you could never expect… or have yet to imagine.

We Create Things Twice

Make you list of adventures big and small.  Include your precious moments that help you appreciate the little things in life. (I still like when a ladybug lands on me—My Mom always told me it was good luck.)

Fill your list with all the things that make you come alive.

Just because you might not have a talking spider in your corner, spinning up webs with words of wisdom and great catch phrases about how awesome you are, don’t limit your imagination.

We create things twice– first in our mind, then in our world.

Enjoy the journey of building your bucketlist, and, if you want better things to show up in your world, start with your mind.

Two quick tips before you go:  If you really can’t get started, go find a picture of you as a kid, and remember what it was like to dream big.  And, just because other people might like the idea of skydiving, doesn’t mean you have to like it, too.

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